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If you’re the proud owner of a new piece of kitchen equipment given to you by loved ones, Santa or — good for you — yourself, you may be wondering: Now what do I do with this? I hope you’ve at least taken it out of the box, anyway. Trying to settle on how best to break in a new tool can lead to decision paralysis, especially if it’s something you’ve never used before. But sometimes you just need to go for it. If you’re ready to open that box and get cooking, here are some helpful suggestions for a half-dozen popular kitchen gifts. A cast-iron skillet can do so much. You can use it in many ways you’d use an ordinary skillet (avoid acidic ingredients, though, which can cause off flavors), but it’s worth thinking about how best to harness this workhorse’s ability to achieve and retain a consistent heat. High sides and excellent heat retention make cast-iron skillets ideal for frying. That naturally means it could be time for you to make our Classic Fried Chicken. Even if you don’t want to go the frying route, you can still take advantage of cast-iron’s ability to sear and crisp ingredients, such as in this One-Skillet Sausage and Potato Hash. And because it’s oven-safe, you can bake all kinds of things in cast-iron, from a Vegetable Frittata to our Any-Fruit Cobbler. If you’ve never thought of employing it for sweets, allow me to introduce you to these Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies. If you received a food processor during the holiday season, congratulations! Your life’s about to get a lot easier. This powerhouse can help you with all kinds of prep work, such as chopping vegetables, grating cheese and thinly slicing produce. Getting through a head of cabbage is easy with a food processor’s shredding disk, as in this Cabbage Slaw With Orange-Pumpkin Seed Dressing. Food processors can, of course, break down food even further; they can smoothly churn out dips and spreads. Speedy Homemade Hummus, here we come. [Meet your new sous-chef: The food processor] Don’t overlook the machine’s capacity for baking projects, too. The blade can help you bring together a pie crust and other buttery doughs. See: Peach Melba Shortbread Bars. Even Basic Pizza Dough for the Oven can be made in a food processor, no stand mixer required. What can’t you do in a Dutch oven? Like their skillet relatives, our favorite Dutch ovens are made of cast-iron. They, too, excel at trapping and maintaining heat. So definitely turn to your Dutch oven for frying, including the fried chicken above. I love it best, though, for soups, stews and braises. This Kabocha Squash and Peanut Stew is an ideal winter dish. Braised Short Ribs of Beef and Braised Chicken Thighs With Tomatillos achieve tender perfection in a Dutch oven. The ability to move from stove top to oven is another bonus of this pot. That’s perfect for meat you might sear and then roast or braise, including Brisket Braised in Beer (Bierfleisch). It also means you can use your Dutch oven to bake bread, suc
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